“The Raven” is a melancholic poem which speaks about a raven which is a symbol of gloom and doom. It is written in the first person point of view wherein the narrator pictures himself in his house, napping and thinking about his dead Lenore when he was visited by the raven. As sullen as the speaker started with his narrative, the mood relayed in the poem becomes more mournful with the presence of the raven. With its black color, the bird mirrors the speaker’s dark and gloomy mental state. In addition, in most folklores and beliefs, black animals are considered bad omens so that the speaker said that it is a prophet, a thing of evil. Other words used that did not only describe the raven but has spoken its message are “grim”, “ungainly”, “ghastly”, “gaunt”, and “ominous bird of yore”. The speaker’s acknowledgement of the raven as an ancient bird means that it is an established symbol of the dreadful representations mentioned above. In addition, the raven is pictured to have sat on the bust of Pallas, the ancient Greek god of wisdom. This means that it has taken the as a messenger of ancient times, speaking the conventional understanding about black animals that prophesy bad news. Consequently, the raven does not only symbolize bad omen but it also reflects the dark thoughts and feelings of the speaker.
What could have given a stronger impact about the speaker’s state of mind is the single word spoken by the bird, “nevermore”. This is a word that speaks of an end and hopelessness. The narrator just lost his Lenore and he was thinking about her when the raven disturbed him. Instead of presenting the speaker in a common scene wherein he could simply break down and accept that he will never see his Lenore again, the poet brings a dramatic turn of events by bringing the bird in to speak the dreaded thoughts of the speaker. It was the fowl that courageously uttered the word “nevermore” and although the speaker reckoned it must be the only word the bird knows, the word was repeatedly uttered by the bird as an answer to different questions. This repetition is used by the author to give emphasis to the speaker’s state of mind who was trying to convince himself that Lenore is not going back to him anymore.
Speaking of repetitions, the author also used alliterations not only to make a beautiful sounding poem but to bring the reader’s attention to certain words the poet wants to highlight. For instance, on the first paragraph, the author already sets the mood by pointing out the setting to the reader through the repetition of the ‘w’ sound on the opening line. The word ‘once’ is read with a ‘w’ at the start which makes an alliteration with the words “weak” and “weary”. “Quaint” and “curious” and the words “nodded”, “nearly” and “napping” on the second and third lines, respectively, also takes attention to the description of the setting.
Reading the poem unfolds the scenes in the story but studying the symbols and meanings bring a whole new understanding of the narration. The state of mind of the speaker is well-considered so that one can almost see the frowns and worries on the face of the speaker. This also brings a reader to a more contemplative mood which makes him/her understand more clearly the emotional and psychological needs of human beings. Indeed, the symbols spoken in the poem make the picture clearer and the message more understandable.